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Dog hurting herself in crate

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Dog hurting herself in crate
  •  I need some help! I recently adopted a dog from the local humane society. She is a 7 year old Collie Shepherd mix and she is a really great dog. The only thing I am having problems with is that she hurts herself in her crate while I am gone. First off she seems to like her crate and sleeps in it fine (no barking or whining at all) and she gets in it throughout the day on her own.  If  she is not with me or the kids we can usually find her hanging out in her crate.
     
     When I leave her in it though if I leave the house she goes in it just fine but she has a fit after I am gone. When I get back her snout is bloody (!) and she is whining/barking. I can not figure out what is wrong. Also she is very excited when I get back, up and wagging her tail. The minute the crate door is opened she will run around the house at top speed and then come back to pick up her stuffed puppy that we keep with her in the crate. Then she will take the puppy in the living room and sit with it licking it. It is the same pattern every time and that is the only time she seems to be so focused on the stuffed animal so I am thinking maybe it is a comfort thing? It is also the only time she is so, er…energetic. Even after being in it all night (which is much longer than the couple of hours she is in it when I have occasionally gone out in the past 2 weeks).
     
     I don#%92t know what to do. I am frustrated because I can#%92t let her keep hurting herself but I don#%92t know what to do now. I have tried giving her treats or busy bones to keep her busy but she will hide them in her blanket and then when she is out later on she will come back, pick them up and eat them somewhere else. Help please! This is my first dog so I really need some ideas from people with some experience!
  • This sound like separation anxiety, try doing a search on that to see what others have done to help this behavior.  It's rather common but controlling it can be difficult.
     
    What type of crate are you using?  Some dogs seem to do better in hard plastic crates then the folding metal wire ones.  You could even put a blanket over the crate, dogs feel more confortable when they are in a dark den-like crate rather then out in the open.  You could also have the radieo or the TV on while your away to give the dog the sence that someone is there.  Good luck and hope you the best with this. 
     
  • This seems like classic seperation anxiety. If you put "seperation anxiety" into the search field in this forum, there have been several recent threads that have a lot of links and resources on this disorder. It is a panic disorder, like some humans have. There are a lot of components to rehabitlitating and managing it, and I think the first thing to do is talk to your vet. Even better would be to find a vet who specializes in behavioral issues, but these can be hard to find. Anyway, talk to your vet first and see what they recommend. There are some medications on the market that can calm such a dog down while you also engage in desensitization and behavior modification. The goal is to be able to wean the dog off the meds, but they may be needed at first to bring the dog down a notch or two so the behavior mod can be more effective. However, not all the meds work with all dogs and it's not a situation where you just drug the dog and everything is automatically okay again.

    This is big thing to handle for a first time owner, but it can be done. I know on this board we have several SA success stories. My dog Conrad is one--managed successfully for four years now. To me, and I'm totally not making a diagnosis here, just an impression, it may be a mild case. If the dog isn't vomiting or defecating in the crate, howling, drooly excessively, and the dog is otherwise quite happy in the crate when you are home, I think there's definately a lot of cause for optimism. Best to treat now before it gets worse.

    Also, licking and chewing is calming for dogs. Many anxious or nervous dogs take to licking something--a toy, their paws, you--when they are upset. I always know when Conrad is feeling upset because he starts to lick the sides of his paws.
  • If you have a video camera, set it up when you are leaving. At least you'll know how she's hurting herself. ;Perhaps it will make it easier for you to deal with the SA or whatever it is. 
  •  Thank you for your replies! In response we have a wire crate right now but because of this issue I am thinking about purchasing a plastic one to try. The video cam is a good idea too and I think that we will try it. I would love to know how she is hurting herself because looking at the crate I don#%92t see how she is injuring herself that badly to cause the small cuts and bleeding.
     
     I found the search function and read a lot and I am going to try out some if the ideas. The more I think about it it makes sense that it might be SA. Reflecting on it she hangs out in her crate but that is always when we are not too far from it. At night my son is sleeping in the room with her. He does not crate her until he is in bed and then lets her out first thing when he gets up. Also I noticed a couple of days ago that she will not play out back by herself. Even though she loves going out and running free in the back yard the minute she sees me sneaking inside she is at the back door wanting to follow me in. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that her previous owner left her at the humane society? Can dogs be traumatized (or insecure) by that? I don#%92t know. Hopefully when I take her into the vet he can give me some suggestions too.
     
     Thanks Again! I really appreciate the help. And, hopefully, so will Ginger's nose [sm=happy.gif]...
  • Yes, being abandoned can be a cause of seperation anxiety. With Conrad his surrender paperwork didn't say anything about it (and it was BAD so his previous owners would have surely noted it) so I think it was new when he came home from us. He'd been traumatized and feared abandonment. My personal theory is that some dogs are born with a predisposition to anxiety, and of those many will not develop a problem until after some kind of trauma in their lives. Many dogs go through all sorts of hell and abandonment and never develop SA but for others, the experience is just too much for them.

    I really think you've got a great chance of successful rehab here. You sound dedicated and willing to educate yourself, and that's what it takes!
  • "I'll Be Home Soon - How to Prevent and Treat Separation Anxiety" by Patricia McConnell, is a good resource on this subject and I urge you to get a copy.  You can obtain it at dogwise.com.  
  • I don't have anything to add on the SA, but I wanted to say that the other thing you mentioned -- running around with a toy when you get home  -- sounds pretty normal to me.  My dog always grabs a toy and does zoomies (crazy running around at full speed) around the house with it as soon as I get home from work.  He is almost 3 and doesn't have as many zoomies as he used to anymore, but he always gets them when I come home from work.  I've always interpreted it as a happy "yay! mom is home" burst of energy. 
  • Just an update: I found out how she is injuring her nose in her crate. Maybe it can help someone else with this problem at some point.

    Her wire cage has 2 doors, one on the side and one on the front. I figured out that she is pushing her nose into the bottom of the font door (under the bottom latch). There is just enough room when she is pushing hard against it for her nose to get caught in there. Since the crate is strong and her nose is raw it has to hurt like crazy and it makes no sense (because there is no way she can fit through that inch space) but she still does it. I went over the whole crate though and this is the only spot where it can be pushed against and get some leeway like that. On the side door the latches are further down so it is not possible.

    To try to keep her from it though I took a couple of twist ties and put them around the bottom of that door. It worked because today when I got home her nose was not any worse and blood free. Yeah! I still need to work with her on the possible SA but it makes me feel better knowing that she stay safe in her crate.


     Does anyone have any better ideas on how to reinforce that door at the bottom? I don't know if that is a good long term solution but at least now I know where the problem is. Thanks!
  • ORIGINAL: Gingerdog
    Her wire cage has 2 doors, one on the side and one on the front. I figured out that she is pushing her nose into the bottom of the font door (under the bottom latch). There is just enough room when she is pushing hard against it for her nose to get caught in there. Since the crate is strong and her nose is raw it has to hurt like crazy and it makes no sense (because there is no way she can fit through that inch space) but she still does it. I went over the whole crate though and this is the only spot where it can be pushed against and get some leeway like that. On the side door the latches are further down so it is not possible.


    You have hit the nail on the head ... it makes no sense for the dog to do this, yet this is exactly what animals with separation anxiety do. It comes from a place within them, like a panic attack ... and the things they do are not logical. Please take care with your dog, because dogs like this *will* hurt themselves in their state of nonthinking.

    I have one dog who has such panic attacks in new situations. We had to work with a vet to medicate him every time we move ... otherwise he will chew into his own leg when left alone for the first time in a new house. (He litterally eats his own skin off.) There is no reason in such things ... just a dog in pain.

    If you adopted the dog from a shelter, it is worth seeing if they have support services. I have found that a few shelters out there employ behaviorists to help you through initial problems you have with the dog. You may need to bring an in-home trainer in to help you if the problem continues.
  • You also may want to try one of those plastic crates. There are a lot less pointy metal parts on those to injure a dog who's panicking. My own experience is actually that my dog stopped panicking completley when put into a plastic crate, because it's so dark and safe, much more so than a wire one where a dog can feel exposed and trapped. But that was just our dog, your mileage may vary.
  • Sammy also improved dramatically when we got a plastic crate rather than a wire one - he did the same thing, was sticking his nose out and cutting himself.  We tried zip tying it closed and he would eat the zip ties then try to get out.  He even pushed the tray out the bottom and flipped his crate - while in it - and got quite hurt trying to get out the bottom as the bars are further apart.  The only thing that kept the bars together, but i don't recommend, is the metal clips you put on pipes that are like metal zip ties - but, it was very sharp and we didn't trust it to keep him safe because of that.
     
    And one thing to note, always keep the crate in a familiar room where you spend a lot of time.  You said your son sleeps in the room with her - that's good, make sure not to move it to some place that's "out of the way" or something - Sammy also improved when we moved him from a "spare" room to a room DH and I are always in. 
     
    The book spiritdogs recommended is a terrific one, it's only a few bucks and it explains a lot.  also there was a thread by sierra2002 in which someone listed a bunch of online resources, if you use the search feature here on the forum. 
     
    And, as houndlove mentioned, there are medications to help short-term.  Sammy is just being weaned off them now after 6 months on clomipramine/clomicalm.  it's not exactly cheap (it ran us about $20-30/month depending on dosage and supplier) but it could help her calm down while you work on training her to get over this.  Many vets aren't very experienced in behavior modification, I've found, but usually are willing to prescribe medication.  the medication only is useful if you take it upon yourself to work with her to overcome this.  The book mentioned earlier - I'll be Home Soon by Patricia McConnell - explains a program you can follow and adapt to help you train your dog to overcome this. 
     
    It's beatable.  might take weeks or months, but start slowly and stay slow - don't try to rush it.  Many of us have experience with it, so don't be afraid to come back with more specific questions.  And, as houndlove said, your dog might only have a milder form of it, so it's best to work on it before it gets to where you can't manage it. 
     
    Keep us updated on how it's going; good luck
  • If you adopted the dog from a shelter, it is worth seeing if they have support services. I have found that a few shelters out there employ behaviorists to help you through initial problems you have with the dog. You may need to bring an in-home trainer in to help you if the problem continues.

     
    Oh, I meant to comment on this - our shelter does have someone I tried to contact, but after a month of calling with no response and talking to at least 6 different people there, I gave up.  We went with a private behaviorist who was good, but 80% of what she said I already was familiar with from reading TONS of stuff online and here.  There was just a few little things she taught us that we tried.  But, if you can't afford a behaviorist it's not the end of the world,  you can find most of the imformation elsewhere it will just take a lot of work on your part. 
  •  I just wanted to take the time to update my situation and let everyone know (that might be in this position in the future) what worked for us. I got a lot of advice and read a lot of great stuff and this is how it went with Ginger. Since I ordered a plastic crate online we tried a lot of the other stuff while we were waiting on it. The Kong was not even touched while we were gone. The thing is though that I have found that is she is too lazy for the Kong when we are at home. She wants us to hold it for her while she licks it or else she is not interested AT ALL in it. Started trying to leave her for short times and work her up but she was getting worse. That is going to take a lot of time and we are still working with that. Tried her blanket,  blanket over the crate, her favorite toys and all kinds of stuff and nothing worked. In the mean time she was trying to claw her way out, butting her head against the top and injuring herself worse by trying to mash her big face into the little slots in the crate. So out of desperation I just went up the street to Petsmart and purchased a plastic crate there in the store. It was more expensive and I had already ordered one online but I was desperate and starting to worry I was going to come home to a dog with a torn body part. I was crying frustrated because nothing was working.

    I am so happy to say that it worked. I don't know why but in the plastic crate she does not get crazy anxious (still a little anxious when we come home but NOTHING like before) and she is not bouncing around hurting herself either. So while we still have a lot of work to do with her before she is truly enjoying her time in the crate while we are gone I give the plastic crates two thumbs up and definitely recommend to anyone having problems with separation anxiety. Thanks to everyone for the help. I REALLY needed it and was at my wits end. Thanks again!
     


  • Glad you found something that helps, even if only "manages" for the time being - with Sammy, it was almot exactly as you describe.  Almost an instant turn-around.
     
    It only gets better from here.  Good luck!